Ready for More | Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman

Friday, August 18, 2017

Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 6/27/17
Pages: 384
Source: received by publisher in exchange for an honest review
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New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy in this action-packed follow-up to EMPIRE OF DUST.

In REIGN OF SERPENTS, the ancient power of Snake Blood threatens the known world. While Prince Alexander struggles with a very deadly inner demon, his betrothed, Zofia, is on her way to him, to unite their kingdoms…even as she begins to realize where her true allegiance lies. The fierce Cynane meets her match-not in her future husband, the deranged king of Illyria, but in her great-great-grandfather, Talus, possessor of Smoke Blood, who will teach her the true meaning of betrayal. And marooned together on an island in the Mediterranean, romantic tension blooms between Katerina and Hephaestion as they learn of lost civilizations and discover a device that could help them do the impossible: kill the last living god.


The adventures continue in Reign of Serpents, the third book in the Blood of Gods and Royals series. Alexander is not acting himself, not only has he gone back on everything he has fought so hard to accomplish while in power, but his eyes have changed color. Something seems amiss. When Princess Cynane’s ship docks on her betrothed’s land, she soon realizes her husband-to-be is insane. She must be cautious in her plan to gain the power that is her birthright. Eleanor Herman, once again, surprises readers with gorgeous stories and well-written characters that intricately weave fact into fiction.

Gigantic Cast of Characters

  • It wouldn't be a book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series without a gigantic cast of characters. Herman does a fantastic job at making each of her characters’ point-of-views unique enough to differentiate between. Although, the perspectives change with every chapter. At first, it is a bit confusing; however, readers will quickly adapt, falling prey to the complex and developed plot.
  • I highly recommend binge reading this series. This way, you won't need a refresher and you can jump into each storyline without confusion. 
  • There seemed to be several time gaps. To disguise them, Herman adds even more perspectives to the ever growing cast. However, I wished the book was a bit longer, not only to stay in the immersive world of true history and fiction but also to fill in the time gaps so the plot flows even more elegantly.
  • Aristotle makes his character debut in Empire of Dust. Aristotle is given a much larger role in Reign of Serpents. It's such a surprise. Herman captures Aristotle's curiosity gorgeously, having his character stay true to life in his research but also developing further when faced with magical obstacles. 
  • Exactly as the two previous books—since there is such a large cast of characters—readers will not know when the story of each character will end. Unfortunately, readers are left with so many questions regarding different characters because of this. A "wait, but what about this character" sort of reaction which will have you returning for the next and final installment.
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Better Than the Previous Book

  • The book begins with a bang. When Herman starts the book nearly right where readers left off with each character, I knew right then we were in for a treat. She wasted absolutely no time in setting up the story, just threw us right into the action, amongst all the stories happening simultaneously.
  • With each book in the series, I've always picked a favorite story arc but with Reign of Serpents, I couldn't find a favorite. Each story was action packed with on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment, it would be too difficult to pick just one. 
  • I can imagine how fun this book must have been to write as it was tons of fun to read. With high expectations and even higher stakes, Reign of Serpents does not disappoint. 
  • Don’t miss the author’s note in the back of the book. Not only does it emphasize how Herman has intertwined true history with that of her fiction, but the facts are extremely interesting.
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Overall

Reign of Serpents is an unforgettable adventure. Eleanor Herman sweeps readers off their feet. The novel will have them hungry for more, eagerly awaiting the sequel.



Legacy of Kings (8/18/15): 5 stars
Empire of Dust (6/28/16): 4 stars
Reign of Serpents (6/27/17): 4 stars

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Book Recommendations for Time Travelers

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

With the third season of Outlander releasing next month, I wanted to recommend some amazing time travel books (that are not Outlander) to get you in the mood for the action-packed, swoon-worthy show. Whether you're in the final stages of building your time machine or have escaped to several past eras, these books are definitely for you.

Top Ten Tuesday is created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Ten Book Recommendations for _______. I adore time travel books and, even, have an entire section on my bookshelf dedicated to time travel. If you're in the mood for some modern-day characters in some amazing historical settings, definitely check out these books:


A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: This may be my favorite from Gray. It represents everything books should have more of, primarily alternate universes. Claudia Gray goes above and beyond building several worlds, developing amazing characters, and a story that is breathtaking. When Marguerite's father is murdered and his killer escapes to an alternate universe, Marguerite goes after him, seeking justice.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire: This is not only a time travel adventure but delves a little into the supernatural with a character who can see ghosts in time loops. It is interesting how no matter how many time travel books you read, authors bring something unique to the plot every time. Michael is a member in the organization, Hourglass, and when he meets Emerson, sparks literally fly. Emerson promises to find out the reasons why they cause blackouts every time they're together and what Hourglass truly does.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone: A romance that crosses time. And who ever said one has to travel far into the past. This time it is only to 1995 to meet the girl of Bennett's dreams.  However, time doesn't like to be messed with and no matter how hard Bennett tries to stay, the universe must always right itself, right?


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: Miss Peregrine highlights a time loop that Jacob steps into when visiting a mysterious island with his father. I don't even know what genre this would be, considering it is a bit creepy with an abandoned orphanage and its pages riddled with black and white pictures that showcase the peculiar children.

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor: I cannot rave about this one enough. For Outlander and Doctor Who fans, this book is definitely the start to a riveting adventure.  Hope's mother is lost in time. When Hope travels to Scotland to find more about her mom, she realizes she had many secrets including being a part of a secret organization of time travelers. Hope must go back in time to save her mother before it is too late.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly: It's been such a long time since I read this book. Revolution is a fantastic adventure that pulls at your heart strings. When her little brother passes, Andi becomes mad, finding it difficult to cope with her loss. Her father takes her on a work trip to Paris where she uncovers a centuries-old journal. When Andi follows the journal's words to the catacombs, the past becomes the present.


Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins: I am happy that this was a standalone because there are way too many series nowadays. However, I wish the book was a bit longer, giving us more time with the well-written characters. Cassandra is less than excited to spend the summer isolated in Massachusetts but the private beach is a nice touch. Except that the private beach includes a boy, claiming it's his and the year is 1925.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: I'm always saying we need more pirates in books so why not give us an amazing time traveling journey with pirates. Thank you, Heidi Heilig. Nix's father is obsessed with acquiring the map that leads him back to his true love. But traveling back in time to that location, where her mother is waiting, may erase Nix's entire existence.

Tempest by Julie Cross: I think you can categorize Tempest as the classic time travel adventure. It'd loads of fun with minimum information dumping and a crime to solve back in time. Jackson can travel back in time. When his girlfriend is shot, he jumps back in time to save her but gets stuck. Making the best of his situation, he tries to find more about his ability and to stop the future from happening.


Passenger by Alexander Bracken: This one is the road trip of time travels. It is incredible and its sequel is even better than the first! When Etta loses everything she holds dear, she is thrust into an adventure she didn't even know existed. With her mother kidnapped, she must travel with a mysterious stranger to pay the ransom price to get the only family she has back.

Ready for some time traveling adventures? If you could go anywhere in the past, where would it be? 

book tag

Happy 7th Blogiversary + My Life in Books Book Tag

Friday, August 11, 2017

So I am a little late to my own party. However, I hope there’s still some cake left. The Bucket List turned 7 years old yesterday! That’s right; I’ve been blogging for 7 years. It feels almost like yesterday when I was booting up my dial-up internet to chat with other readers online for the first time about the books I was reading. Fast forward seven years and I’m still talking about books and still loving every second of it. You are what makes blogging so incredible. Without your comments, your discussions, your recommendations, I would have never made it this far. Thank you, thank you so much! It’s been a wonderful journey so let’s continue for many years to come.


I truly wanted to do something along the lines of a Q & A, similar to what Cait from PaperFury did. Seven years is a long time and you must have some questions to ask (maybe). However, I was super awkward about receiving questions or receiving none at all so I decided to do a tag instead. I love doing tags because you can save them for rainy days and all of them are super fun to fill out. I first saw the My Life in Books tag over at Novel Ink.  I hope you got a piece of cake to celebrate and while you’re chowing down, here’s My Life in Books book tag:

Find a book for each of your initials.


Count your age along your bookshelf. What book is it?

This one is hard because I don’t have just one bookshelf. (Would you be interested in a bookshelf tour? Let me know in the comments!) Actually, I have 7 bookshelves in total: 1 full size and 6 half-size. Instead of giving you 7 books from each bookshelf, I chose one bookshelf from my read books and one from my TBR.


Pick a book set in your city/state.



So now, you know where I live. I’ve always said “the middle of nowhere,” which is true except that this very-known three-day party happened here several years ago. I, almost, didn’t find out about this book but Goodreads has this search bar where you can search for settings of books. And guess how many books came out in my city/state. Just this one.

Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.



This is a companion to Just One Day. The characters spend their time primarily in France. However, Gayle Forman really gives us a look at different parts of the world including Amsterdam and Mexico. Let’s pack our bags; I would love to jet off to all of the places described in the book.

Pick a book that’s your favorite color.



Dear Publishers, there is a color shortage in our book rainbows and that would most definitely be green. We need more green books. There is an abundance of blue and black but green and orange are missing.

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?



I am a huge fan of the movie. After watching the movie at least a hundred times, I found a worn copy in my local library and gave it a shot. Have you ever read The Princess Bride? Though the movie follows a lot of the scenes word for word, there are some parts—most likely because of time restraints—that were simply omitted. I loved the book so much that I just had to keep renewing it. I wasn’t a huge reader back in middle school. I read books for school but otherwise, I didn’t like reading that much. Gasp, I know. However, this was the first time I realized books may be better than their movies. With this epiphany, and my librarian telling me, “Jeanna, there are several great books out there, you don’t have to keep rereading this one,” I decided to try out another book of another movie that I enjoyed. And from there, my reading life started.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?



This is due to unlikable characters. I am 75% done with Carrie Pilby and it has taken me two weeks to complete it. It is not so difficult to read the books as it is to just get through them. I seem to race through books that I love but books I don’t enjoy take me so long.

Which book on your tbr pile will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment when you finish it?



So far, I have finished Outlander and Dragonfly in the Ember. Outlander took me months to read but Dragonfly in the Ember—with tons of forceful reading—I finished in about two weeks.  I purchase the flimsy paperbacks, mostly because I do not like how small mass-market paperbacks are. And the hardcovers, since the books are so large, feel like they are going to fall apart. These flimsy paperbacks have the smallest writing you have ever seen, with super thin pages and 800-some pages. I feel like I’ve accomplished a month’s worth of reading after reading an Outlander book.

What is the longest book you’ve ever read? What color do we need more of on book covers? Should I do a bookshelf tour? What destination do you want to travel to? I tag everyone; feel free to do this awesome tag.

blog tour

Blog Tour: Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor (+Contest!)

Friday, August 04, 2017

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor

Author: Janet B. Taylor
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful. 


Celia is at it again, intent on taking over time and space as we know it. She still searches for the Nonius Stone which would make time travel a much easier and less restrictive feat. The Viators, Hope and the gang, know they need to destroy the stone so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Nikola Tesla, a scientist, has been working on an enhancement which can make time traveling a less laborious venture. The Viators go back in time to destroy the device and convince Tesla never to recreate it again. When Celia beats them to it, things start getting deadly. Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor is a brilliant sequel that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Fantastic Time Travel Adventure

  • Into the Dim was my favorite debut of 2016. A YA time travel adventure that Outlander fans should not miss. Once again, readers are easily swept back into the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands. The dialect which shines in the dialogue immerses readers further into the story.
  • Taylor brings us up to speed on what her characters have been doing since the first book ended. She recaps Into the Dim quite nicely, making it easy to dive right into the plot of the sequel.
  • I loved the first book but it is always difficult to start the sequel with such high expectations. However, those high expectations were met at every turn. Unencumbered by the explanations of how Taylor's time travel works, she could continue the story in any direction. 

Strong Female Characters

  • Janet B. Taylor writes each character with care. Each are developed, well-written and interesting. However, in Sparks of Light, it is her female characters that truly shine. There are many females and each strong and incredibly unique.

  • Hope, the protagonist, wows you from the very first page. Her strength comes through in every obstacle she is faced with. She's introverted, courageous and hilarious. I enjoyed getting to know her in Into the Dim but getting to go on even more adventures with Hope in Sparks of Light was so much fun.
  • Phoebe is my favorite character of them all. Her amount of sass just made every scene that much more hilarious. Her little jokes and big heart will make you believe you’ve been friends with Phoebe yourself for years. It is hard to believe that Phoebe and Hope only met a few months ago in the previous book. The development of their friendship blossomed gorgeously.

Leaves You Wanting More

  • I adore when actual history is intertwined in works of fiction. So when readers got to meet the man who invented the Waldorf salad, I couldn't help but fangirl. There are a few characters in Sparks of Light that are nonfictional. Janet B. Taylor weaves the historical characters with her time traveling adventure story in such a masterful and beautiful way.
  • It seemed a poor formatting choice to have several pages in italics to emphasize flashbacks. Not only did the formatting seem strange, it was a bit frustrating to break in the middle of the main plot to give you flashbacks that revealed nothing significant. I hope the flashbacks become important further on in the series.
  • Similarly to Into the Dim, Sparks of Light was one wild ride. It was action packed filled with unpredictable twists and turns.
  • The ending fills you with such a warm fuzzy feeling of family. I cannot wait for what Taylor has in store for us next.

Overall

Overall, Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor was a superb read with nonstop action, unbelievable twists and well-written characters. Despite the few flashbacks which mess up the flow of the story, Sparks of Light is a magnificent sequel that will have you wanting more. If you love time travel adventures, you will certainly love this fantastic series!


Into the Dim (3/1/16): 5 stars
Sparks of Light (8/1/17): 4 stars

Book Trailer Courtesy of The YA Book Traveler


About Janet B. Taylor:


The 2013 winner of the coveted #PitchWars, Janet B Taylor, has four years' experience writing web content for a major television network fan site (CBS) that garners over a hundred thousand hits a day. Janet travels extensively to those places where her novels are set, often roaming around at night to commune with the famous historical figures about which she loves to write. She is a member of several writing organizations, including the SCBWI and the Historical Novel Society, and lives in a tiny town in Arkansas with her family.


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SPARKS OF LIGHT, US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour! Thank you so much to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this fabulous tour! Be sure to check out all of the amazing blogs that have participated:

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
7/24/2017- a GREAT readReview
7/25/2017- Lisa Loves LiteratureReview
7/26/2017- YA and WineGuest Post
7/27/2017- Ex LibrisReview
7/28/2017- Once Upon A TwilightInterview

Week Two:
7/31/2017- Seeing Double In NeverlandInterview
8/1/2017- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview
8/3/2017- Two Chicks on BooksInterview
8/4/2017- The Bucket ListReview

kickin' it

Kickin' It: July 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. July was okay for me. I went out and did quite a few things this month, including seeing Anastasia on Broadway which was magnificent! However, as far as reading goes, it was my worst month this year I think. I read 8 books in total but none were mind-blowing; however, I did come across a few gems that made me smile. Here's my wrap-up:


Jackaby by William Ritter: I actually wasn't planning on reading this book for awhile. However, I seemed to be focusing more on shorter reads this month because I could feel a slump coming on. Jackaby brings some fun entertainment in a small package, totaling at 299 pages. It was just what I needed to get back in the swing of things. Jackaby can be closely compared to Sherlock who works on supernatural cases. Filled with action and fun, this book will leave you in laughing fits.



Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun (4 stars): Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky was beautifully-written and wonderfully romantic. Fans of Soundless by Richelle Mead and Sun’s previous series will be sure to fall off the edge of the floating continents to experience the journey with Kali and Griffin.

The Bone Queen by Alison Croggon (3 stars): If you love classic high fantasy like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, you will love this series.

And I Darken by Kiersten White (2 stars): And I Darken was, unfortunately, not the book for me. The beautiful writing paired with elaborate world building seamlessly carved a place inside my heart. However, the unlikable characters and endless talk of politics made it impossible to love.

Run by Kody Keplinger (3 stars): Despite the fantastic writing, the slow plot which only flows through character development does not make for an awesome read. I recommend skipping this one and giving The DUFF another reread.



Beastly Bones by William Ritter (9/22/15): Jackaby was my favorite book this month. And I knew it was a series but I didn't know it was ongoing. The fourth book in the series releases soon so I definitely want to catch up on all Jackaby's adventures, starting with this sequel, Beastly Bones.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (6/27/17): I've been hearing a lot of amazing things about this one. I received it in my first-ever OwlCrate box and I cannot wait to read it. The book sounds like a fun, hilarious read about a year-long trip abroad and the misadventures that ensue. If you are curious what else came in the fabulous OwlCrate box, my unboxing is below.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (4/5/16): I've decided that I don't read nearly enough contemporary during the summer and what better way to change that by picking out a few that sound interesting. Jessie is struggling through high school but when she receives a message online from a mysterious screen name who offers to help her out, she accepts.




Reunited by Colleen Houck (8/8/17): Colleen Houck wowed me with Reawakened, a girl finds a lost Egyptian Prince in the middle of New York City and must help him find his brothers to save the world from the pending darkness. The sequel that followed could have been so much better but I still have high hopes for the third and final book in the series, Reunited.

The Dire King by William Ritter (8/22/17): I realize that much of this wrap-up is me gushing over this series. Jackaby was such a short and thrilling book. The forth and final book in the series releases soon and I hope the detective's adventures just keep getting better with each book.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor (8/1/17): I've read this one already so it isn't an anticipated read for me. However, it definitely should be on your TBR because it is fantastic. This is the sequel to Taylor's 2016 debut, Into the Dim, a time traveling adventure set in Scotland *swoon*.




I started the month off right with much-awaited tickets to the Broadway show, Anastasia which turned out to be as magnificent as I knew it would be. In movies, I was able to see the new Despicable Me movie which was super cute but the first one still remains my favorite. And I watched Kong: Skull Island which I found star-studded and incredibly action packed. I had plans to watch the TV series about William Shakespeare on TNT, titled Will but kept missing it so hopefully, I can find it somewhere.

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How was your July? Read any awesome books this month? What movies did you watch?